This story has been updated.
For those attempting to enjoy Austin’s iconic 6th Street entertainment district Friday night (6/11), it was a nightmare scenario. Initially reported as 13 people shot with two in critical condition, that number in creased to 14 on Saturday. And then on Sunday evening, it was announced that one of the individuals in critical condition had died. 25-year-old Douglas John Kantor died at 12:01 p.m. Sunday afternoon, according to police.
The shots rang out at roughly 1:24 Saturday morning, near 400 E. 6th Street and the intersection of Trinity Street, and immediately the 911 calls began pouring in. This is right in the heart of 6th Street, where clubs and bars line both sides of the road, and on weekend nights the streets are cordoned off and filled with foot traffic.
Officers who are staged downtown were able to respond immediately, but due to the rush of people, paramedics and fire personnel were hindered in reaching the area. Officers were able to render first aid, including applying tourniquets and pressure to the wounds of victims, likely saving lives. Six people were directly transported to area hospitals in police cruisers, while one video shows an officer performing chest compressions on a victim at the scene.
Due to the chaotic nature of the scene, there initially was not much information on the potential perpetrators, but one suspect was said to be a black male wearing a black shirt, with a skinny build, and with dreadlocks.
On Saturday afternoon, Austin police informed the public they had zeroed in on two suspects, and are working to identify them, and that one had been taken into custody. The preliminary investigation found that the two suspects were shooting at each other, and the victims were caught in the crossfire. The suspect taken into custody was a juvenile.
The FBI also responded to the scene just in case the incident turns out to be some form of terrorism, though at this point, there’s no direct indication terrorism was involved.
“At this point, we’re reviewing all the video sources we have,” interim Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon said in a press conference. “[The] Halo public safety camera system we have downtown, we have officers with their body-worn cameras, as well as many businesses have surveillance video in this area, and all of those video sources will be reviewed … What we’re asking for at this point is for anyone that might have information on this, might have been down here or witnessed something, or if video was taken that’s on a cell phone, for them to go ahead an contact us.”
This mass shooting occurred right as things were finally beginning to return to normal for Austin music and entertainment after the pandemic. It also comes as the city is dealing with a rapid spike in violent crime, and gun violence specifically, and especially within the downtown corridor. The police budget in the city was cut by nearly $20 million, with $80 million reallocated to civilian and private outsourcing, and multiple police cadet classes cancelled in the wake of the death of George Floyd and local protests in Austin.
Meanwhile a rapid spike in the homelessness issue has made parts of Austin’s downtown unsafe, and at times, impassible, while local music venues continue to be strained from rising rents, dwindling patronage, a strain on resources due to the pandemic, and an unprecedented delay in relief funds due to issues stemming from the system set up through the Save Our Stages act to offer venues relief. This latest incident to go along with many others is the last thing Austin’s music scene needed.
With the suspect or suspects still at large, Austin Police Chief Chacon could not say there wasn’t a danger to the public. However, the shooting appears to be an isolated incident at this moment.
This story has been updated.